Dayton, November 20, 1905
Yours of Nov. 16th & 17th received. All accounts of the Montgomery catastrophe agree (1) that the flight was normal till Maloney, essayed a dive, (2) that several forward somersaults preceded the collapse of the wings. It seems to me impossible that a breakage of the upright standard above the surfaces could allow the rear wings to assume any position which would turn the machine downward. Any fluttering of the front edges of the rear wings would tend to make the machine rear up rather than duck. I consider it beyond question that the trouble was due to something else than the collapse of the rear wings. It may have been due to (1) the radial arrangement of the wings, or to (2) a disarrangement of the device for moving the tail. If the wings were set radially I would consider the former the more probable explanation; if the wings were set at the same angle, the latter would be more probable. The breaking of the upright standard at the point indicated would permit the wings to collapse only after it had "turned turtle." Prof. Montgomery ought to be warned that the center of pressure moves backward at all flying angles instead of forward as his pamphlet states; and advised to add twenty five pounds to the weight of his machine. The extra weight would scarcely be noticeable in the operation of the machine but would double its strength. The questions raised by the deaths of Lilienthal, Pilcher, and Maloney should not be permitted to rise again.
A few days ago Mr. Siders, secretary of the Commercial Club of Dayton, called us up and said he had a telegram from New York saying that Mr. Manly in a speech before the newly organized Aero Club had stated that the Wright brothers of Dayton, Ohio, had succeeded in managing aeroplanes and had made about fifty circuits of their park, and asking whether it was true. We told him that we had made a number of flights but did not wish to make any statement for publication. After thinking the matter over we have decided that it will be best to absolve our friends from their obligation to keep secret the results of the season's experiments now that the season is ended. The strict repression of authentic news may be harmful with widespread rumors in circulation.
Many thanks for the copy of the Technical World Magazine.
Octave Chanute to Wilbur Wright,
November 24, 1905